Bastilla, or also written 'Pastilla' is a North African dish in the form of a sweet and savoury pie. It is immensely popular in Morocco, and often served as a starter for a festive dinner. In this recipe I share with you my Vegan Bastilla!
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
🥘 Main ingredients
- lentils, pre-cooked or from a can
- ginger powder
- chickpea flour
- baking powder
- flaked almonds
- olive oil
- brick pastry, or filo
Traditionally it is made from Warqa, which is a very thin, crisp and crepe-like pastry. However often brick pastry (a sort of phyllo pastry) is used instead, because making your own warqa is very labour intensive.
There are two main versions of Bastilla in Morocco: Poultry and seafood. The poultry bastilla would traditionally be made with pigeon, but chicken is often used nowadays. This one is always sweet & savoury, with the use of lots of cinnamon and sugar. The seafood pie however is not sweet, but spicy. This pie is often served on weddings.
🥧 My vegan rendition of a bastilla
So for my vegan bastilla I took the ideas of a poultry pie, because I love the mixture of sweet and savoury together in one pie.
A traditional poultry bastilla is layered in three layers. Firstly the meat layer, full of beautiful Moroccan spices, such as saffron, ground ginger and cinnamon. Secondly you would find a reduced layer of the meat liquid, with onions and eggs to thicken it. And Finally topped with the last layer which consists of toasted (or fried) almonds with cinnamon and sugar. I just love this mixture of flavours and textures.
My biggest challenge veganising this dish was the second layer. Because the texture of the eggs really contributes to the overall experience. During my trial versions I worked with tofu, but that did not satisfy me, neither in flavour nor in texture. Therefore I started testing some batters that would set but still stay soggy (like scrambled eggs). Finally I found my answers in chickpea flour, water and aquafaba.
The vegetable mixture I chose instead of the meat was not too difficult, and I guess it can be adjusted to your own liking. I chose carrot, courgette and lentils. Personally I wouldn't replace the lentils, as they provide an earthiness in flavours, and a richness in texture. But the carrot and/or courgette could be replaced by turnip, parsnip or celeriac.
The idea of this vegan bastilla is to really represent the Moroccan flavours. So don't reduce your spice mix too much. It has to be full of flavours. Check often during your preparations, the flavours should be quiet powerful.
🔪 Instructions pictures
To give you a little idea about the various steps of making this Moroccan vegan pie;
It might look like a lot of work, but I promise you the reward is enormous! I was so happy when I managed to make a perfect vegan bastilla. My meat eating partner (who loves pigeon bastilla) was blown away by the outcome. I am afraid I will have to make it more often now 😉
Check out some of my other Moroccan recipes;
Have fun! Enjoy the process, and ENJOY the food! Please add @haricoco1 to your instagram post, I love to see your Bastilla creations.
- 2 carrots coarsely grated
- 1 courgette coarsely grated
- 150 g 2 cups lentils, pre-cooked or from a can
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 11/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- small bunch of parsley chop the leaves
- 50 g ½ cup + 1 teaspoon chickpea flour, sieved
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 125 ml ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoon aquafaba
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 100 g 1 cup flaked almonds
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- ½ tablespoon cinnamon
- ½ pack 5 sheets of brick pastry (or filo)
- 100 ml ½ cup olive oil
- A Moroccan Bastilla is always layered in three layers, and wrapped in pastry. I use brick pastry in this recipe, but home made pastry is used as well, called 'warka'. So for your preparation you start with preparing the mixtures for your three layers, which mostly you can do at the same time.
for layer 1;
- Peel and coarsely grate the carrots, coarsely grate the courgette.
- Heat a lightly greased pan, and sauté the carrots and courgette with a pinch of salt. Leave on a low-medium heat, until the vegetables are dry, and no moister is left.
- Add the spices and stir well, followed by the washes and drained lentils. Leave to heat up for 5 - 10 minutes.
- Add the chopped parsley leaves and take off the heat.
- Set aside
for layer 2;
- Mix the sieved the chickpea flour (gram flour) with the baking powder, and slowly (while stirring) add the water.
- Leave the batter to rest for 30 minutes
- In a frying pan sauté the chopped onion with a pinch of salt.
- Add a little bit of water and soften the onions (while covered) for 7 - 8 minutes.
- When the onions are nicely softened and still a little 'juicy' stir in the sugar and cinnamon.
- Meanwhile whisk the aquafaba with a pinch of salt and pepper until you get soft peaks (approx 10 minutes)
- Gently mix the whisked aquafaba into the chick flour batter.
- Add the mixture to the onions, and cook the batter while stirring (like scrambled eggs).
- Once the flour mixture is cooked (test by taste) which will take a few minutes, take off the heat and set aside.
for layer 3;
- Toast the almonds light brown, and decant on a plate
- Stir in the sugar and cinnamon, and crush the almonds finely.
- Set aside.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C / 350F
Assembling the Bastilla;
- Take your pastry sheets (brick pastry or filo pastry) and start assembling your Bastilla, you can choose to do two or three small bastilla's, or 1 larger Bastilla. In this case I went for one larger bastilla.
- Start with layering three sheets criss-cross over each other in a way that you have enough left hanging over the sides for folding over the top. Make sure that you brush olive oil between every sheet.
- Cut a fourth sheet to cover over these layers.
- Start filling with the first layer (vegetables)
- Before using the second layer, make sure that the onion and batter mixture is still soft and slightly juicy (like soft scrambled eggs). If it has set too much, not to worry, just stir in a little bit of warm water until you have reached a nice soft texture again. Layer this mixture on top of the vegetable mixture.
- Finally layer the toasted almonds as last layer.
- Fold up the bastilla, by using the over-hanging sides of the pastry sheets, make sure always to brush with olive oil in between every layer. Here or there you might have to cut some pastry away, so keep your scissors handy.
- I like to use one final brick sheet to cover the whole bastilla, and tuck it under the bottom, that way you have a nice even top surface.
- Brush again olive oil over the top, and place in your pre-heated oven 180C / 350F for approx. 10 - 15 minutes.
- Use a plate to flip over your bastilla, and bake for another 5 minutes on this side.
- With your serving plate flip over the bastilla again to its original side.
- You can now decorate the top of the bastilla with glacing sugar and/or cinnamon.
This vegan bastilla recipe is part of the series; 'Travels of taste'. Discover & travel the world with our senses and imaginations. Meeting other cultures through food. So today we find ourselves in Morocco. Walking around the hustle & bustle of the souks, and discover all the flavours Morocco has to offer, check out my full Moroccan 'travels of taste' post; >>> Morocco - the flavours of the souks
Stacy Sipherd Harmon says
Is there a mistake in the recipe? It says, "50 ounces ( 0 cup + 1 tsp) chickpea flour, sieved". That seems like a lot of chickpea flour and I'm not sure how much to use. Thank you, Stacy
Thank you Stacy for pointing this out. The correct measurement for the chickpea flour should be 50 grams, which is 1.7 ounces. There is obviously a technical mistake with the recipe card, I will get onto this first thing Monday morning. Meanwhile it might be better to put the setting to 'metric' which is the one in which it has been written. I hope this helps. Nicole
Hello! This looks fantastic, and I think I want to make it my vegan main for a small Christmas gathering this weekend, but I'm going to have a lot going on in my kitchen that day.
Do you reckon this would work OK if I assembled it ahead of time and then baked it at the last minute, or would it be more sensible to bake it in advance and have it at room temperature, or pop it in the oven for an extra five minutes while I'm getting everything else on the table?
Would love your advice!
Hi Catherine, Great idea to serve it at a little Christmas festive gathering. It is traditionally a true festive dish.
I know exactly what you mean, I was in the same situation hosting a small party the end of October. So what I did in the end; I decided to make the bastilla fully around noon. And put it quickly back in a hot oven just before serving (indeed for about 5 minutes). The outcome was; The bastilla is better when eaten fresh. But the re-heated one was still delicious and very much liked by my guests (of which one was a top french pastry chef :O).
So what happens has all to do with the second layer (the vegan 'scrambled egg' mixture). When you make it fresh is really has that soft scrambled egg texture. When it cools down it hardens, and becomes a bit like, Over-cooked scrambled eggs. So when reheating this layer will not go back to its original texture.
Another solution would be; Pre-make all the filling in advance (3 layers) and assemble the bastilla last minute, in which case you will have to be confident and quick with pastry folding. If you choose to go with this option. You can make the 'egg-mxture' in advance, and it will harden when cooling. But to get it back to its soft (more fluffy) texture just reheat and add a splash of boiling water, and stir it in.
Good luck! (let me know how it went)
And Enjoy your Christmas gathering.
Thanks so much for your quick reply! I shall ponder my options re making it in advance versus otherwise. I have carnivores at the meal too, so assembling and cooking the bastilla while the turkey is resting might be the way to go... especially as I have olive oil spray for the layers, and I'm not afraid to use it! The question will be whether I can keep enough bench space free for this once the meal gets going...
I've already made the vegetable and lentil filling, incidentally, and it smells and tastes wonderful!
Great to hear! You sound so organised! I am sure it will be a success, being so well prepared. Wishing you a great and delicious celebration.
Keep me posted!
Thanks for this amazing looking recipe! What do you think about substituting veggies for shredded seitan or jackfruit for the meat layer?
Hi Soukaina, I think shredded jackfruit would work great ! I never tried it because I cannot get it in my region (south France). And shredded seitan could I think work too, especially when it has been marinated in a sort of 'poultry flavoured' marinade. Which you could try and recreate with for example; A vegan chicken broth (there are a few on the market) added with apple cider vinegar,onion & garlic powder, white pepper, turmeric & nutritional yeast flakes.
I would love to hear the outcome!